This Grizzlies Playing in the playoffs in 2020 and then picking up the No. 8 seed in the West in 2021 shows they’re a team on the rise. Still, many of us didn’t expect that rate of rise to accelerate as it did in 2021/22, when Memphis won 56 games and finished second in the NBA.
although Ja MorantEntering the All-NBA level played a big role in the Grizzlies’ own standings ascent — and earned him the Most Improved Player award — Taylor Jenkins‘ The team showed impressive winning ability even without a star point guard in the lineup. Going 20-5 in the game Morant missed, Memphis found a way to get positive contributions from players far behind on the depth chart.
Growth for a young team like the Grizzlies isn’t always linear, so we shouldn’t have teams with 60-plus wins in 2022/23.But with Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. In the long run, Memphis has a couple of solid support players by their side, a solid foundation to build on, and barring disaster, shouldn’t regress to the lottery anytime soon.
The Grizzlies’ offseason plan:
I mentioned above that Morant is “long-term,” but he and the Grizzlies still need to officially announce that. This should be one of the team’s first — and most immediate — business orders this offseason. Morant will be eligible for a rookie max extension on July 1, and I expect Memphis to make that offer right away.
The Grizzlies’ offer could include Rose Rule language, allowing Morant to earn up to 30% of the 2023/24 salary cap starting salary (instead of 25%) if Morant meets certain performance criteria. Although he was named to the All-NBA team this year, Morant must be named to the All-NBA team again next season to qualify for a higher maximum player — the Rose rule standard requires players to be named to the All-NBA team in any season prior to him. The new contract takes effect or for two of the first three seasons.
About a week before they complete their extension with Morant, the Grizzlies will make some decisions on draft night. That said, are they looking to use their two first-round picks to add more young players to their current core, or is it time to start cashing in on some of their picks for veteran help?
Memphis has this year’s 22nd and 29th overall picks and narrowly missed adding a third first-round pick in the lottery. The Grizzlies may be the only team of 29 opponents to be disappointed with the Lakers’ poor performance this season, as the Lakers end up outside the top 10 with a first-round pick in Los Angeles. The Lakers are well behind the standings, with their pick at No. 8 and then going to New Orleans, giving the Grizzlies no chance to really load up on their 2022 draft assets. Instead of the Lakers’ first-round pick, they got a pair of second-round picks, including this year’s 47th overall pick.
Without an additional first-round pick, the Grizzlies won’t have as many options to make a really big move — neither the No. 22 or No. 29 picks will bring back an impact player on their own , although teams may explore attaching an option or two to a Steven Adams or Dillon Brooks Seek an upgrade.Adams, Brooks and Brandon Clark Is one of Memphis’ rotation players entering a contract year and eligible for an extension this offseason.
Keeping one or two first-round picks isn’t a bad backup option.After all, this Grizzlies front office is in trouble Desmond Bain The 30th pick in the 2020 draft. A winning pick isn’t easy to replicate, but it’s a reminder that finding core components late in the first round isn’t impossible.
The Grizzlies also face a pair of big decisions in key free agency, Tess Jones and Kyle Andersonit will be interesting to see how the team negotiates with the two top ball handlers.
Few point guards handle the ball like Jones, who led all eligible players in assist-to-turnover ratio for the fourth straight season. He’s also hitting a career-best 39.0 percent from 3-point range in 2021/22.
Memphis presumably wants to bring Jones back, but if he offers more than mid-range money, clubs should be wary of suitors trying to outsell their rivals. In 50 games off the bench this season, he’s averaging just 17.1 minutes per game and isn’t expected to be part of the team’s future starting or ending lineup. If the Grizzlies are willing to move up to around 12-15mm per year for Jones, it’s likely because they have some concerns about Morant’s durability and see Jones as a solid insurance policy.
Meanwhile, Anderson took a step back from his best season as a professional a year ago after the 21/22 season ended, but in his four years in Memphis, he proved to be a solid second-tier playmaker and a versatile player Defender, playing time on the wing and as a small-ball power forward.The Grizzlies have enough depth that they shouldn’t feel pressured to overpay Anderson, but it would be nice to have him back, especially if there’s any uncertainty about the 2021 first-round pick Ziel Williams and Santi Aldama Get ready to add roles.
There are several other factors the Grizzlies must consider when discussing whether to bring back Jones and/or Anderson. One is their salary cap situation – teams could theoretically clear over 20MM of salary cap space by having these two players walk around, which could come in handy in free agency or trade.
Another factor to consider is Memphis’ roster size.reserve John Konchar And using their two first-round picks would leave the Grizzlies with 14 players under contract, leaving only one open on their 15-man regular-season roster. If the Grizzlies want to ensure that both Jones and Anderson have room without giving up guaranteed salaries for either player, a merger (i.e. two-for-one) trade or moving one or both of their first-rounders could help clear the stalemate .
Salary cap situation
Note: Our salary cap figures are based on the league’s latest projections for the 2022/23 season ($122MM).
- Jaren Jackson Jr. ($28,946,605)
- Steven Adams ($17,926,829)
- Ja Morant ($12,119,400)
- Dillon Brooks ($11,400,000)
- D’Antoni Melton ($8,250,000)
- Ziel Williams ($4,591,680)
- Brandon Clark ($4,343,920)
- Desmond Bain ($2,130,240)
- Santi Aldama ($2,094,120)
- Killian Thierry ($1,901,625)
- Xavier Tillman ($1,782,621)
- John Konchar ($840,000) – Partially guaranteed. Non-guaranteed section noted below. 1
- Tyrrell Terry (bidirectional)
- Total: $96,327,040
- John Konchar ($1,460,000) 1
- Total: $1,460,000
restricted free agency
two-way free agency
- No. 22 pick ($2,660,280)
- No. 29 pick ($2,180,520)
- No. 47 pick (uncapped)
- Total: $4,840,800
Players eligible for extension
Note: These players are either already eligible for the extension or will be eligible before the start of the 2022/23 season.
- Steven Adams (veteran)
- Dillon Brooks (veteran)
- Brandon Clark (Rookie size)
- John Konchar (veteran)
- D’Antoni Melton (veteran)
- Ja Morant (Rookie scale)
- Xavier Tillman (veteran)
Unrestricted free agency/other caps
Offseason Cap Outlook
We assume the Grizzlies will try to re-sign at least one of Anderson and Jones and will operate as a max team, but they don’t necessarily have to go in that direction.
Memphis could open up nearly $200,000 in cap space just by letting their free agent walk around, and could push that number even higher by trading one or two of their first-round picks or some guaranteed salary.
Available cap exceptions
- Intermediate exception: $10,349,000 3
- Biennial exception: $4,050,000 3
- Trade exceptions: $4,054,695
- Trade exceptions: $1,018,012
- Trade exceptions: $119,844
- Konchar’s salary will be fully guaranteed after July 3.
- The Grizzlies can’t offer Culver a more valuable starting salary than his salary cap because his 2022/23 rookie-size option was rejected.
- These are expected values. If the Grizzlies decide to lower the cap and use cap space, they will forgo those exceptions (and their trade exception) and instead get the room exception ($5,329,000).
Salary and salary cap information from Basketball Insider and RealGM was used to create this article.